The New Zealand government has appointed biochemist Juliet Gerrard as its next chief scientific adviser — the first woman to hold the position. Gerrard will be the second person to occupy the post, which advises the prime minister on science and science-policy issues. The government announced the appointment on 12 June.
Gerrard, who moved to New Zealand from the United Kingdom more than two decades ago, is a faculty member at the University of Auckland. Her work spans biochemistry, biomaterials design and health science; her current research focuses on how the structure and assembly of a protein influences its function, which has applications in developing new drugs, materials and foods.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Gerrard said she hopes her appointment will encourage young female scientists to be ambitious in their careers. She takes over from Peter Gluckman, who was appointed in 2008. Gerrard starts on 1 July and will retain a part-time position at the University of Auckland.